On a late afternoon in the fall, two women at a table in Culina, the restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel near Beverly Hills, stopped their conversation to turn to Ayler Young, a Los Angeles musician-turned-designer, who was seated nearby.
“We want one of those,” they exclaimed.
They were referring to an assortment of bomber jackets Young had pulled from garment bags. The jackets were in sequined scarlet, gilt-embroidered flowers, a chic black and a white tweed.
The response Young, a classically trained pianist, received from passersby at the restaurant is one he should be accustomed to.
Soon after he launched the Philip Ayler brand last year (Philip is Young’s birth name), he wore one of his satin bomber jackets to West Hollywood club 1 Oak and was stopped by a tour manager for Guns N’ Roses who asked him to make similar jackets for the band. Young’s jackets have also been spotted on Kendall Jenner, Lady Gaga and Mick Jagger.
“When you can impress the people that are the hardest to impress, to the point where they go, ‘Wow,’ that’s when you know you have something special,” Young said.
The Philip Ayler line of men’s and women’s jackets is priced from $795 to $2,495 (depending on fabric), and selections are available at luxury vintage store What Goes Around Comes Around in Beverly Hills, www.WhatGoesAroundNYC.com and PhilipAyler.com.
The popularity of Young’s bomber jackets is predicated on their essentially one-of-a-kind nature. He uses vintage fabrics or unused stock from European factories that make clothes for Giorgio Armani, Chanel and Balenciaga. That means a supply run in a particular style is limited.
“I started to fall in love with high-end, beautiful vintage French bouclés and Italian fabrics,” he said. “Because of the limitations, I can make maybe a total of five jackets in each style, and that’s it.”
At any given time, he may have selections including a cobalt-and-black houndstooth with black trim, a silver-shot dusky rose jacket or a claret-colored crushed velvet version. Unless he can find identical fabric, when they’re gone, they’re gone.
The idea to launch a line of exclusive bomber jackets came to Young in a dream, he said, in which he was traveling around the world wearing one in burgundy.
The next day, he received a call from a stylist friend who’d ’found a sample in her closet she thought he might like. Turns out it was a burgundy bomber jacket.
Young said he took it to be a sign and started looking for factories, settling on one in Los Angeles. Now, he makes just one style in men’s and women’s sizes, and is considering offering a junior’s version.
The buzz around the brand has led to other opportunities. He said he’s collaborating with ESPN for the upcoming X Game in Minneapolis. That project would include bomber jackets with wireless headsets in gold, silver and bronze crushed velvet for the medalists. He has also created merchandise for Don Julio Tequila and TV channel Viceland, among others.
“I want to keep the business simple,” he said. “I want to be good at making one product and be known for that. Beautiful things are the simplest things, and bomber jackets have a nice constraint. I have one pattern which is my canvas, and then I get to decide which fabrics feel and look good in that form.”